The Batchelder Award is awarded to a United States publisher for a children’s book considered to be the most outstanding of those books originating in a country other than the United States and in a language other than English and subsequently translated into English for publication in the United States during the preceding year.
BROWN, published by Enchanted Lion Books, written by Håkon Øvreås, illus. by Øyvind Torseter, and translated by Kari Dickson. Originally published in Norwegian in 2013 as Brune.
When bullies destroy his fort, Rusty dons superhero garb to seek revenge. Adopting the alter-ego moniker “Brown,” he gives one bully’s bike a new coat of paint, beginning a whirling series of nocturnal adventures that cement new friendships and growing acceptance of the loss of his beloved grandfather.
“Dry humor and tight pacing capture beautifully the awkwardness of new friendships and the anger of grief, gently extended with cartoon illustrations,” said Batchelder Award Committee Chair Dr. Lauren Aimonette Liang.
2020 Honor Books
The Beast Player, published by Godwin Books / Henry Holt, an imprint of Macmillan Children's Publishing Group, written by Nahoko Uehashi and translated by Cathy Hirano. Originally published in Japanese in 2009 as Kemono no Sōja.
In this complex fantasy, the future of the kingdom falls in young Elin’s hands when she discovers she can communicate with Royal Beasts. Elin must decide to sacrifice her beliefs to save the kingdom from ensuing chaos or preserve the dignity and freedom of the animals she loves.
“Captivating, well-paced action draws the reader deeply into Elin’s beautifully harsh world, emerging only to ask questions about control, misuse, and responsibility to nature,” said Aimonette Liang.
The Distance between Me and the Cherry Tree, published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing, written by Paola Peretti, illustrated by Carolina Rabei and translated by Denise Muir. Originally published in Italian in 2018 as La distanza tra me e il ciliegio.
Fifth grader Mafalda is on the hunt for her “essential thing,” while simultaneously creating a list of things she loves but can no longer do as she loses her sight to Stargardt’s disease. Readers spiral directly into Mafalda’s world, where the harsh situation is balanced with everyday realities, growing friendships, and new joys.
“Strong voice, exquisitely detailed school scenes, and excellent capture of a child’s understandings, and misunderstandings, create a coming-of-age novel with a fresh perspective,” said Aimonette Liang.
Do Fish Sleep? published by Enchanted Lion Books, written by Jens Raschke, illustrated by Jens Rassmus and translated by Belinda Cooper. Originally published in German in 2017 as Schlafen Fische?
Ten-year-old Jette poignantly describes the death of her terminally ill younger brother, Emil. Consumed with grief, Jette’s parents are emotionally unavailable to answer her many questions, but Jette’s ideas, first for comforting her brother, and later for his funeral, empower her as she comes to terms with the devastating loss.
“This powerful book rings true to a child’s voice in the face of intense loss, and provides opportunities to comprehend the pain of grief,” said Aimonette Liang.
When Spring Comes to the DMZ, published by Plough Publishing House, written and illustrated by Uk-Bae Lee and translated by Chungyon Won and Aileen Won. Originally published in Korean as Bimujang chidae e bom i omyon.
Each season, a grandfather brings his family to visit the 154-mile wide DMZ. From the observatory, the family observes rare animals frolicking in the inadvertent nature preserve formed between the barbed wire, while soldiers march and warships gather in the distance. Meanwhile, grandfather gazes wistfully across to the other side.
“The juxtaposition of the wildlife refuge and the military remains, of gentle familial love and sharp grief, create a haunting and emotional impact,” said Aimonette Liang.